Who is Julien Smith?

Julien Smith is the author of the popular productivity book The Flinch which encourages you to leave your comfort zone on a daily basis.

Books by Julien Smith

Quotes by Julien Smith

“A good haircut changes everything.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“A life that has been wasted leaves a body intact and pristine– but a life that has been properly used leaves scars.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Actually write on your blog. Nobody cares if it's hard.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Address small problems. They will become big problems.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Always remember those who helped you. Deliver two or three times as much value back.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Apologize more than you need to.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“As soon as you can, buy some art.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“As you learn, you’re also falling down and getting scars. The pain repels you. You flinch so much that you start fearing and predicting pain. You combine it with the lessons you learned from other people. Finally, you start to protect yourself from things that haven’t even happened. At the end of this path, you go on the defensive. You give up on hurdles. Your world starts getting smaller, instead of bigger. You don’t adapt to what comes at you. You stop following your curiosity and you start being safe. From the inside, this feels like getting wise, but it isn’t. Avoiding the flinch withers you, like an old tree that breaks instead of bending in a storm. Unfortunately, this is where most adults end up. But there’s an antidote. You can make your world get bigger again. The instinct you have is the seed—you just have to cultivate it. The anxiety of the flinch is almost always worse than the pain itself. You’ve forgotten that. You need to learn it again. You need more scars. You need to live.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“At least once, date someone that’s out of your league.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Awaken to the reality that you may still have much to live for.”

Julien Smith

“Be as useful as you can in as many circumstances as possible.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Be careful what lessons you avoid and whom you listen to. Decide carefully what’s dangerous.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Be comfortable with abandonment, even of parts of your identity.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Be humble and curious.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Be like Jesus, not like his followers. (This applies to all of them.)”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Behind every flinch is a fear or an anxiety - sometimes rational, sometimes not. Without the fear, there is no flinch. But wiping out the fear isn't what's important - facing it is.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Behind the flinch is pain avoidance, and dealing with pain demands strength you may not think you have.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Bring a bottle of wine.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Challenge yourself by doing things that hurt, on purpose. Have a willpower practice, such as very hard exercise, meditation, endurance, or cold showers. Choose something that makes your brain scream with how hard it is, and try to tolerate it. The goal isn’t just to get used to it. It’s to understand that pain is something you can survive.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Commit to things, regularly, that are far beyond your ability.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Consider avoiding school. Go to lots of conferences instead.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Courage is a learned skill.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Do some freewriting. It helps you think things through.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Do things that are uncool. Later on, they usually end up becoming cool anyway.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Do what you say you'll do. No one is reliable anymore.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Do what’s most important first thing in the morning, before you check email.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Do you wonder if someone is talking shit about you? Whether your friends will approve? Have you become conflict-avoidant? Spineless?

Well, it’s time you started not giving a fuck.”

Julien Smith

“Don't take anything personally ever.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Don’t buy a lot of stuff, and only buy the stuff you really love.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Don’t discriminate. Connect anyone in your network to anyone else.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Don’t worry about regret.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Dress like a cooler version of yourself.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Everyone feels like they're not good enough. It's not just you.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Everything you are used to, once done long enough, starts to seem natural, even though it might not be.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Examine your jealousy. You’ll learn a lot about yourself.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Find mentors. Just don’t call them that.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Find things that inspire you and pursue them, even if there’s no money in it.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Find ways to cheat the system. Just don't cheat people.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Find your voice.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“From the outside looking in, everyone looks like a conformist. But really, no one is; they’re just waiting for another person to speak up. The question is, why isn’t it you? Do you feel like you’ll be judged, or ostracized? Do you think you’ll be ignored and humiliated? Do you feel impotent? The truth is likely quite different. Everyone wants progress but very few want to lead. So a whole group waits for the first hand to go up before their hands go up, too. Suddenly, a vote goes from a unanimous NO to a unanimous YES. All it took was one voice of dissent—and suddenly, everything changed. The secret to overcoming the flinch is that everyone wants you to succeed. People are looking for proof that you can be amazing so that they can be amazing, too. The Web is so great because you can see others being truly themselves, and succeeding at it. This diminishes the power of the consensus. The pressure diminishes. You can be who you like. Getting in the ring becomes easier because you have supporters. So if you see no one like you, no one who agrees, don’t worry. There are actually hundreds of people like you, and they’re waiting for a leader. That person is you. Stop flinching. Speak up. Join us.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Genius gets you nowhere. Execution is everything.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Get a library card.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Get one big success at an early age. It’ll help build your confidence for bigger things.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Get to know your neighbours.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Get used to feeling stupid. It's a sign of growth.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Getting lost is not fatal. Almost every time, it will make your world.”

Julien Smith

“Give away your best work for free.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Give your power over to no one.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Go to bed, and wake up, early. No one will bother you, letting your best work emerge.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Go to Iceland. It’s worth it.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Going into the unknown is how you expand what is known.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Good connections are about people, not social networks.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Have some manners.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Help people who have never helped you, and can't.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Here’s the thing: the lessons you learn best are those you get burned by. Without the scar, there’s no evidence or strong memory. The event didn’t actually happen or imprint itself on your brain—you just trusted those who know better. Adults know what’s safe, so you listen. Over a lifetime, those who listen too much build a habit of trust and conformity. Unfortunately, as time goes on, that habit becomes unbreakable. This is dangerous.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“How to get back your self-respect in five easy steps.

1. Do things that you consider embarrassing.
2. Accept, or deal with, awkwardness.
3. Refuse boundaries.
4. Tell the truth.
5. Begin your new life.”

Julien Smith

“I almost never eat breakfast. I generally fast for most of the day, and I begin eating after my workout or around noon or 2:00pm. I don’t want to have to go to a ton of effort thinking about what I need to cook throughout the day. ”

Julien Smith

“I’m really looking for a calm morning so I can be productive and get into the zone later on.”

Julien Smith

“If given the choice of equity or cash, always take cash.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“If the internet is the best thing in your life, you have a serious problem.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“If you can’t do a pull-up, you have a problem.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“If you dismiss the things that do not matter; if you remove those things from your mind and focus on what must be done; if you understand that your time is limited and decide to work now; only then will you be able to get to the finish line. Otherwise, you will be dissuaded into living a life you aren’t interested in.”

Julien Smith

“If you see someone who needs help, stop asking yourself if they need help. Instead, just help.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“It’s easy for people to talk a good game, so watch how they behave instead.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“It’s widely known that interviewers get their best material by being quiet and allowing silence to force words out of a politician or celebrity.”

Julien Smith

“Join a gym. Lift the heaviest you can. (This applies to girls too.)”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Keep people around you that will tell you the truth.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Krishnamurti, a great Indian sage, once said: “You can take a piece of wood that you brought back from your garden, and each day present it with a flower. At the end of a month you will adore it, and the idea of not giving it an offering will be a sin.” In other words, everything that you are used to, once done long enough, starts to seem natural, even though it might not be.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Learn a new language.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Learn about the Tetrapharmakos.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Learn how to speak in public.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Learn something from everyone.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Learn to climb trees.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Learn to enjoy hunger.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Learn to meditate. Go on a retreat if you have to.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Learn to play chess, go, and bridge. They’ll keep you from going senile.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Learn to really listen.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Look– you’re going to get hurt. And sometimes, you’ll see it coming. But you should do it anyway. In fact, you need to. You need scars. You need stories.

You need to have lived.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Make everything either shorter, or longer, than it needs to be.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Make your home a place where you feel safe.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Meet new people as often as possible. Offer to help them.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Meet with friends more often than you think you have to.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“My morning space is basically sacred, it’s the best time for me to get in the zone. It’s something I’ve always done.”

Julien Smith

“Never let anyone photoshop a picture of you. It creates a false sense of self-confidence.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“New tech almost always looks dumb right before it completely changes your life.”

Julien Smith

“No one has a problem with the first mile of a journey. Even an infant could do fine for a while. But it isn't the start that matters. It's the finish line.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Nobody likes a know-it-all.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Open your eyes. Block all escape routes. Eliminate all noise. The common will capture your attention as long as it’s allowed in the room. Whatever you are used to, whether cigarettes, shopping, or Twitter, must be eliminated in the quest to get into the ring. You must make a sacrifice on the altar of greatness and perform acts that others will not. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice your comfort, you don’t have what it takes.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“People are judging you right now. Some people don’t like you, and guess what? There’s nothing you can do about it. No amount of coercion, toadying, or pandering to their interests will help. In fact, the opposite is often true; the more you stand for something, the more they respect you, whether it’s grudgingly or not.”

Julien Smith

“Protect your hearing. Trust me.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Quit your horrible job.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Read biographies. It’s like having access to the best mentors in history.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Read Man’s Search For Meaning.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Read more. Especially things you disagree with.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Relationships are weird. Once we’re in one (with family, a spouse, whatever), we promptly begin to take the other person for granted and move on to impressing strangers instead– say, our boss. Then, once we’ve impressed our boss, we start taking him for granted too, and so on, in an endless cycle of apathy. It’s like we always prefer to impress and charm the new than to work on what we already have.”

Julien Smith

“Remain skeptical forever.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Repeat people’s names when you meet them.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Say no to projects you don't care about.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Scare yourself a little bit every day. It will expand your inner map.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Scare yourself a little bit every day. It will expand your inner map.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Scars tell stories. They are what’s left by mistakes we’ve made. They’re what remind us of the places we’ve been and the people we’ve known.
Scars also tell us that we can handle what comes at us. When we look at a scar we got a long time ago, we remember the experience and see that we’re ok. Scars are the writing on the wall that says 'You can endure'.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Show up.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“So if you see no one like you, no one who agrees, don't worry. There are actually hundreds of people like you, and they're waiting for a leader. That person is you.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Somewhere in the world, a lion wakes up every morning not knowing what it’s going to eat. Every day, it finds food. The lion isn’t worried—it just does what it needs to do. Somewhere else, in a zoo, a caged lion sits around every day and waits for a zookeeper. The lion is comfortable. It gets to relax. It’s not worried much, either. Both of these animals are lions. Only one is a king.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Spend more time around people that both challenge and respect you.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Starve if you have to, for as long as you need to.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Success works as a cycle - growth and contraction, balancing and unbalancing - all while you're encountering hurdles that get higher and higher over time.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Survive on a little just to prove you can do it.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Take cold showers. They’re better than coffee.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Take people up on bets. Make more bets yourself.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Tell the truth. You don’t need to be an asshole, but the world does not need another conflict-avoidant, evasive person. No one wants another individual who steps in line with everyone else. The status quo is doing fine without you, so it’s up to you to call bullshit if you see it.”

Julien Smith

“The ability to withstand the flinch comes with the knowledge that the future will be better than the past. You believe that you can come through challenges and be just as good as you were before them. The more positive you are, the easier it is for you to believe this. You move forward and accept tough situations, so no matter the breakup, the job loss, or the injury, you believe you’ll recover and end up fine. If you believe this, you’re right. If you don’t have faith, you believe that every potential threat could be the end of you. You aren’t sure about how to handle challenges, because you question your ability to overcome them. If you believe this, you’re right, too.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“The best conversations are had side by side, not one in front of the other.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“The fear of the flinch gets built over time, by parents, schools, and careful friends. Based on what it sees outside, it builds an impenetrable fortress. It sits there, like an alarm system, watching for dangerous behavior, and warning you when it happens.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“The first noble truth is that most people don’t even care that you’re alive. Embrace this, my friends, for it is true freedom. The world is vast and you are small, and therefore you may do as you wish and cast your thoughts of those who dislike it to the side.”

Julien Smith

“The first step is to stop seeing everything as a threat. You can’t will this to happen—it requires wider exposure. If you’ve been punched in the face, you won’t worry as much about a mugger, for example. If you face the flinch in meditation, you don’t worry about a long line at the bank. Build your base of confidence by having a vaster set of experiences to call upon, and you’ll realize you can handle more than you used to. Doing the uncomfortable is key. It widens your circle of comfort. Second, rework the pattern of threat response. Learn habits that move you out of a fight-or-flight choice and into another pattern that’s more effective.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“The flinch is your real opponent, and information won’t help you fight it. It’s behind every unhappy marriage, every hidden vice, and every unfulfilled life. Behind the flinch is pain avoidance, and dealing with pain demands strength you may not think you have.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“The freedom that comes from talking about an uncomfortable truth is better than the comfort of avoiding that talk altogether.”

Julien Smith

“The real problem with Internet haters is that they confirm your paranoid delusion that everyone out there secretly hates you.”

Julien Smith

“The truth is that judgment and fear will never stop, but they don't actually do anything.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“There is a method that works. Find it.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Those who are unwilling to face the flinch are obvious, too. Their eyes are dead. Their voices sound defeated. They have defensive body language. They’re all talk. They see obstacles as assailants instead of adversaries. Their flinch is the elephant in the room, and they don’t want to hear about it. Any fight you want to win, a habit of pushing past the flinch can make it happen. Once you have adjusted to the pressure, once you learn to flinch forward, you have the resolve to pass through the impassible. In fact, it becomes certain that you will—it’s only a matter of time.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Those who don’t give a fuck change the world. The rest do not.”

Julien Smith

“True wisdom and insight is always free.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Turn your mobile phone off for a few hours each day. Having nothing to do while you’re waiting for a bus can be boring, but it’s only when you’re bored that the scary thoughts come to the surface. Use a dumb phone on the weekends to prevent yourself from checking your messages.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Twitter followers don’t keep you warm at night.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Ugly is just a step on the way to beautiful.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Walk more.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Walk where you want to walk. Don’t accept false choices. Don’t let people dictate how you should live your life.”

Julien Smith

“Welcome to the ring. Enter those who dare, and let them share the spoils. Only they have earned it. Will you win? The ring offers no promises. But one thing’s for sure: unless you get in the ring today, you don’t even stand a damn chance. Decide what really matters, and get in the ring for it—now.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“What it takes to move past anything is to simply realize that your obstacle is unimportant, and that it can be dismissed. This is true whether you’re running a marathon or trying to get to Mars.”

Julien Smith

“What people truly respect is when you draw the line and say “you will go no further.” They may not like this behaviour, but so what? These are people who don’t like you anyway, why should you attempt to please people who don’t care for you in the first place?”

Julien Smith

“What you're missing is that the path itself changes you.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“When I was young, my mother tried to teach me to cook, but I didn’t like the idea of getting my hands dirty, so I never learned. My hands stayed soft. There was nothing there to tell me what I’ve been through– because I hadn’t been through much.
Then I started playing capoeira and rock climbing a bit. My hands started to ache, leaving me with a kind of memory of what I had done. Over time, my hands became more resilient. I started to be able to handle pain and lost the fear of my hands being dirty.
Though it’s small, it’s a change that mirrors a larger one in my head. Now I’m not so afraid of being dirty; I’m not as afraid of making mistakes and being imperfect, particularly in front of other people. I’m better for the damage I’ve gotten.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“When you know that pain is temporary, it affects all of your decisions.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“When you’re having supper with rich people, pick up the cheque.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“Wiping out the fear isn’t what’s important, facing it is.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Yes, there is such a thing as bad press.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness

“You can change the world again, instead of protecting yourself from it.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“You can't make yourself feel positive, but you can choose how to act, and if you choose right, it builds your confidence.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“You can't settle for reaching other people's limits. You have to reach yours.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“You can’t make yourself feel positive, but you can choose how to act, and if you choose right, it builds your confidence. Over time, this process becomes a positive cycle.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“You don’t know anyone at the party, so you don’t want to go. You don’t like cottage cheese, so you haven’t eaten it in years. This is your choice, of course, but don’t kid yourself: it’s also the flinch. Your personality is not set in stone. You may think a morning coffee is the most enjoyable thing in the world, but it’s really just a habit. Thirty days without it, and you would be fine. You think you have a soul mate, but in fact you could have had any number of spouses. You would have evolved differently, but been just as happy.

You can change what you want about yourself at any time. You see yourself as someone who can’t write or play an instrument, who gives in to temptation or makes bad decisions, but that’s really not you. It’s not ingrained. It’s not your personality. Your personality is something else, something deeper than just preferences, and these details on the surface, you can change anytime you like.

If it is useful to do so, you must abandon your identity and start again. Sometimes, it’s the only way.

Set fire to your old self. It’s not needed here. It’s too busy shopping, gossiping about others, and watching days go by and asking why you haven’t gotten as far as you’d like. This old self will die and be forgotten by all but family, and replaced by someone who makes a difference.

Your new self is not like that. Your new self is the Great Chicago Fire—overwhelming, overpowering, and destroying everything that isn’t necessary.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“You don’t need everyone to like you. When people don’t like you, nothing actually happens. The world does not end. You don’t feel them breathing down your neck. In fact, the more you ignore them and just go about your business, the better off you are.”

Julien Smith

“You may be uncomfortable with silence. I know I still am. But I have been working on it and have to say that it is a much more serene state to be in than trying to cover it up with random babbling just to fill up the air. This is one type of awkwardness, a kind that you should feel comfortable about and learn to live with.”

Julien Smith

“You will never be entirely comfortable. This is the truth behind the champion - he is always fighting something. To do otherwise is to settle.”

Julien Smith The Flinch

“Your stories are both more and less interesting than you think.”

Julien Smith 100 Tips About Life, People, and Happiness